Faith No More was at one time two separate entities, balancing on two different sounds. There was the Faith No More that had brought Mike Patton on to record and give life to the lyrics of their last record, The Real Thing. Then there was the Faith No More that gave Mike Patton creative control and let the band flourish in a cloud of strange style, ripping the safety net from beneath them and trying death defying stunts in the form of sound.
It begins with the ferocity of “Land Of Sunshine”, an iconic opening that captures the slapping bass and rough, almost writhing guitar that Faith No More become so incredibly popular for. It is the raw genius of making an album that abandons the rules and instead adopts to create something entirely fresh and new with each listen. From the little quirks that Patton shifts with his voice, the way that Mike Bordin on percussion is on top of everything and keeps the instruments on this platform that is level with Billy Gould on bass, Roddy Bottum on the keys, and Jim Martin on guitars. There is an allure behind Faith No More and how they can illustrate segues in these moments that really should not be successful, but fly off the board in a manner of glory. The first half of Angel Dust is a mostly heavy rock influenced jump of chart smacking cuts that rely on the highly replayable crunch of strings and bass solos that slide through the fret board in an almost grinding fashion that complements the rest of the band’s style.
But it is the moments like “RV” where Angel Dust suddenly hits a brick wall and becomes this carousel of horror that takes a trip to the desert where the guitars become an oasis of beauty surrounded among the ugliness. The way that the track has Patton explaining “I think it’s time I had a talk with my kids, I’ll just tell ‘em what my daddy told me, ‘You ain’t never gonna amount to nothing’”. It is an ugly depiction of what Patton calls “White Trash” in America and takes a strange, but welcome transition of sound with an even stranger story attached. It is then the cascading guitar drop that leads into “Everything’s Ruined”, a mostly subtle track that begins to fade in the riffs and leads which then segues into these choruses of simplistic gorgeousness where the keyboards can lead in the background and create these glorious moments of synths that seem to rise up and create the real depth behind the track. Faith No More has an incredible way of providing large amounts of sound into one simultaneous mix that conforms so well together and makes for an outstandingly produced record overall.
Around the second half of Angel Dust, Faith No More becomes a furious group of madmen that shift the straight forward rock tracks into these contorted jumps of rough lyricism and even harsher instrumentation. The track “Crack Hitler” has Patton singing behind heavy distortion as his voice sounds as it is being transmitted through an old Ham Radio which as Patton has shown before, might have been the case in the recording studio. He has been known to push the boundaries of sound, and with Faith No More, they are a catalyst for odd approaches in the second-half of Angel Dust. It becomes an ever-present sense of intrigue for the remainder of Angel Dust, but becomes the strong descent into madness when the orchestral mess of “Jizzlobber” comes bursting into the scene in a psychotic dash of insane screams that becomes a highlight of Angel Dust and a timestamp on how immaculate Faith No More can become when put under the exact pressure and weight of production. It is an angry display of vocal athleticism from Patton, but also a display of strength behind Bottum who creates these organs that begin to flood the stage and overtake the remaining sound for the track, eventually engulfing Faith No More in a retribution of gospel work.
The final moments of Angel Dust take off the rough and grumbling sheath and instead show a calm side that is a fitting end to the madness that ensued. From “Midnight Cowboy (Theme From)” or “Easy”, Faith No More becomes a symbol of creative steps that was not afraid to stumble, fall, and eventually float to the top with their minds left in a twisted, mangled mess of excitement.